SHIRLEY —With another school year drawing to a close, students at every grade level at the Lura A. White School have chalked up hundreds of hours in the world of books and added stacks of stories to their lifetime reading lists.
Recorded on sheets turned in to their teachers recently, the activity was not assigned but voluntary, part of Books and Beyond, an extracurricular reading program established by former school librarian Judy Stanislaw that is now in its third decade and still going strong.
The task of tallying all that time and all those tomes fell to retired teacher Meredith Marcinkewicz, who now works part time in a variety of enrichment areas at the school.
Last week, all those bookish kids were recognized for their reading repertoires in a series of awards events - one for each class -- that continued all day, wrapping with picnic-style "BBQ" for the students and their families after each program and culminating with a year-end celebration for the 5th graders, a last hurrah for their final year of elementary school as they move on to middle school next year.
Marcinkewicz compared the students' zeal for literacy to practicing anything they want to become proficient at. "If you want to get better at, say, basketball or playing the trumpet, what do you need to practice? The answer: You practice the thing you want to get good at. Right? Right!
Librarian Linda Atwood noted that four third-graders took the Caldecott (coveted children's book prize) Challenge earlier this year and read every book on the list. They created a ceiling tile in art class to commemorate the occasion, with their names on it. "It will be there for future students," she said.
Hazen Library staff members Kathleen Buretta, children's librarian, and library aid Lauren Dill, were on hand at each award event, sporting "Star Wars" inspired costumes.
They were also there to pitch the library's summer reading program.
Tapping into the reading momentum created by the popular Books and Beyond program, "A Universe of Stories" waits on the launchpad, set to blast off June 20th, with not to miss events all summer long.
The roster includes Magician Scott Jameson, (June 20 at 5:30 p.m., for all ages); Kosmic Kelly (June 25 at 5 p.m., ages 4-14); and MOS Night Sky (2 sessions, all ages. Times TBD.) Registration is required for the June 25 and Aug. 5 programs.
Those who register, beginning June 14, can pick up a reading log and event bag, Buretta said.
And bring your reading log back by Aug. 7 for tickets to win prizes.
For more information, visit www.shirleylibrary.org, go to Shirley Public Library on Facebook or call the library at 978-425-2620.